Marlon Moraes knew it wouldn’t be easy but he did just enough to hand Jose Aldo a defeat in his bantamweight debut.
Moraes survived a valiant effort from the two-time featherweight champion in a back-and-forth battle that could have gone either way once the judges’ scorecards were added up. Ultimately, it was the former bantamweight title contender who got the nod with two scores reading 29-28 in his favor with the third going for Aldo by the same 29-28 score.
Afterwards, Moraes embraced Aldo and said that he would gladly face him again if that’s what the UFC wanted.
“I think I score more. It is what it is,” Moraes said. “If they think Aldo deserves a rematch, I’ll give him a rematch right away.”
Known as an incredibly fast starter, Moraes wasted no time welcoming Aldo to the bantamweight division with a blitz of punches and kicks as soon as the action got started. Moraes stung Aldo with his opening combinations including a nasty switch kick to the head and it backed off the former featherweight champion but his chin withstood the punishment.
Late in the opening round, Aldo turned the momentum in his favor during an exchange that saw Moraes rattled and searching for a takedown to avoid taking any more damage.
Despite all that was made about his weight cut, Aldo looked like the fresher fighter with each passing minute as he began walking down Moraes. Aldo’s confidence swelled with each strike he landed but he still had to be careful because Moraes was still firing back with power but not as much speed or movement on his feet.
As much as Aldo was stalking his prey across the Octagon, Moraes was still connecting with his counter strikes that backed off the Brazilian legend during many of the exchanges. Once the fight ended and the decision was read it appeared Moraes’ ability to connect on those shots with Aldo constantly moving forward while not throwing with as much volume made the difference.
After falling in his bid to become bantamweight champion in June, Moraes switched camps and then called for the fight with Aldo, which was a risky move but it obviously paid off. He maintains his position as the top ranked contender in the division with a slew of opponents lining up in an attempt to take his spot in 2020.